God has given you one face And you make yourselves another. (Shakespeare, Hamlet, 3. 1. 149) It is a remarkable fact that in western civilization old age is seen by most people as a curse. According to statistics, more money and time is spent on concealing the signs of old age than on finding ways […]
It is a remarkable fact that in western civilization old age is seen by most people as a curse. According to statistics more money and time is spent on concealing the signs of old age than on finding ways to prevent heart disease or cancer. One finds more people in beauty parlors than in hospitals. Old age is seen as a defeat. Many people consider being retired synonymous with being retarded. There is a strong sense of being useless and rejected, with a feeling of emptiness and boredom
Avraham passed away and died at a good age, elderly and full of days and he was gathered to his people. (Bereshith 25:8) The day that Avraham our father departed from the world, the great men of the nations stood in line and said: Woe to a world that has lost its leader, and woe to a ship that has lost its captain.(Baba Batra 91a)
When studying the life of Avraham, we often wonder what made him into the first Jew in all of history. Without any doubt he must be seen as the progenitor of all that Judaism had to offer throughout the ages. As such he laid the foundations of nearly all religious thinking in the west. Not only did Judaism give birth to two other world religions, Christianity and Islam, but it also became the foundation of several legal systems, the concept of justice and western morality. What was Avraham’s secret?
In trying to obtain a piece of land to bury Sara, Avraham gets heavily involved in lengthy negotiations (Bereshith, chapter 23). After he has turned to the children of Chet, he asks them to speak to Efron the son of Tzohar who is the owner of the Cave of Machpela. It is in this cave that he would like to bury his dear wife Sara.
In these most trying days for the people of Israel, in which many Palestinians have gone to the streets in Ramalah and other places, to celebrate the killing of Jews including children, babies, soldiers policemen and women in terrorists attacks, it is important for us to remember who we are.
When looking into the lives of the Avoth, the three forefathers of the people of Israel, it is remarkable that not one of them was officially called a tzaddik, a righteous man, by the talmudic and midrashic sages. Only Joseph, the son of Jacob, was officially given this title (Midrash Tanchuma 58:4). This is rather strange, since it cannot be denied that also Avraham, Yitschak and Yaacov were outstandingly pious people.
“Man always dies before he is fully born.” Erich Fromm
The certainty that one has succeeded in the education of one’s children can only be established when one watches the conduct of one’s grandchildren. And even then one cannot be sure.